After the jester Tony Reagins was kicked out of the court weeks ago the Angels have been on a search for a new, competent GM to take his place. When that new GM settles into his/her kingdom of Anaheim they are going to have a lot of work to do. With a new job in place with a new organization it’s no doubt they will want to make the biggest splash possible in order to let the rest of the baseball world that the Angels mean some serious business. What better way to make your mark on a new team than with the signing of one of the two biggest free agents in the past few years, Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols.
A lot of dead weight and cash would have to be cut if the Angels would want to even consider this idea to be within the realm of possibility. First things first, they would have to clear out the roster jam that plagues the Angels infield. Erick Aybar, Maicer Izturis, Alberto Callaspo are jammed into two positions, though with Mike Scioscia’s juggling act you would have hardly noticed. At this point they’ll have to compete for one position, SS, because with this plan Mark Trumbo is going to have to move to third, no debate about it. This would give the Angels room at first and free up a few AB’s at DH since Kendrys Morales won’t have to battle with Mark Trumbo for a platoon at 1B/DH. Of course this would mean the Angels would have to trade one of these 3 infielders to make this possible. Let’s take a quick look at the pricetag on these 3 players next year.
Alberto Callaspo – $2 mil, Arbitration Eligible
Maicer Izturis – $3.8 mil
Erick Aybar – $3 mil
Alberto Callaspo is due up for a good raise after his productive year this past season, though his raise won’t be high enough to consider trading him just to cut costs. If that’s the case (which it is) the Angels are going to have to bite the bullet real hard and trade Izzy away. After having one of his most productive years with the Angels his trade value has reached an all time high. The Angels wouldn’t get anything special since he would come as a rental, unless the new GM is savvy enough to pull a solid player (maybe a reliever for the ‘pen) and some cash to sweeten the deal. The semantics of who the Angels would receive are aside the point as the only reason the trade is being made is to free up some payroll. If the Angels really wanted to roll the dice they could send Callaspo as a package deal, maybe for a cheap utility player (though we already have Amarista at a much cheaper rate) or extra cash. If you see the Angels making any deals like this you better get ready to see them follow it up with a big move.
This is where the real skill of the GM is put to the test, as they would have to find a team willing to trade for Bobby Abreu without asking for a significant amount of cash. I’ve seen people bring up the idea of Abreu to the Marlins, and while this is a good idea in theory it would be extremely difficult to sell Abreu as a player still capable of fielding. At best the GM will be able to sell him as a productive utility outfielder/”player hitting coach” as he was with the Angels when he first came to town. This frees up even more AB’s at DH for Wells and Morales. A side effect of these moves would be allowing the Angels to slot Mike Trout in as the regular LF with Wells taking the majority of his AB’s as the DH as a platoon partner to Kendrys with the occasional start in LF a couple games a week. Unless the GM is smooth enough to work out a Vernon Wells contract while eating as little of the contract as possible that is, but I won’t toy with that idea as it is way too far-fetched to even consider.
Landing Prince Fielder would be a dream come true, but the real prize would be with Albert Pujols. This would be amazing PR for the team, not to mention revitalizing the organization in one fell swoop. FO morale would skyrocket and player morale would be through the roof, the team would be practically jumping through their skin out of excitment of being able to play with Albert Pujols. Of course this deal would burden the Angels payroll in a few years, this would be a win now move, much like the Rangers signing of Adrian Beltre. If the Rangers do end up winning the World Series you bet the Angels are going to try to do as much as possible to show not only that they are still competitors and can keep up with the Rangers, but that they are a serious threat for the World Series. The Angels middle of the order would go from mild and tepid to seriously dangerous in the matter of one move. Let’s assume that every player on the Angels either bounces back or continues whatever resurgence they were in last year (Torii Hunter) and the quality of the middle of the order skyrockets with Hunter/Pujols/Morales/Trumbo, that’s a possible 110 homeruns just from those 4 players, and I would much rather have Albert Pujols in order to keep the top notch Angels defense in order.
Either of these signings would do some harm to the Angels in the near future, but for the next couple of years they would turn this offense into a perennial World Series threat, maybe not on the same caliber as the Rangers, but it would be pretty damn close. Signing Pujols wouldn’t just improve one spot in the order; the improvement would trickle down to the rest of the team. Imagine what it would be like having a legendary power hitter passing on their teachings to Mark Trumbo. I imagine the offensive boost this team receives would be akin to the affects seen after the Abreu signing, except with a bigger boost in power numbers. I don’t think bringing Fielder on the team would have nearly the same effect; he doesn’t have nearly the same experience or a similar mentor mentality to Albert Pujols. The Angels have reached a point where they need to start bringing more leaders into the pack and less followers. Torii Hunter can’t take that role on all by himself, and Vernon Wells is too crappy for his leadership to mean anything real.
I don’t want to sound like a Jeff Mathis junkie, but the intangibles that Albert Pujols would bring on board are well worth the money itself.